Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Even Conservatives Don't Want to Be Conservatives Anymore

Republican Columnist/writer David Brooks thinks Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's speech in response to Obama's address was "insane".

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Watch Obama's Address to Congress

Short video summarizing the speech's message in case you didn't see the whole thing:

In all seriousness though:

"This plan will require significant resources from the federal government -- and yes, probably more than we've already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you -- I get it.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job -- our job -- is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage.

That's what this is about. It's not about helping banks -- it's about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan, too, maybe they'll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

So, I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes shortcuts and abuse.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we're taking to revive our economy in the short term. But the only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren't preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America -- as a blueprint for our future." {Full Transcript HERE}


Friday, February 20, 2009

Are we done with them yet?

Imagine your neighbors being targeted and arrested without cause, simply because they are Latino. Then, imagine undocumented immigrants being paraded in shackles across town to publicly humiliate them in front of media cameras. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County creates dehumanizing scenes like these on a regular basis.

According to The Arizona Republic, Sheriff Arpaio's track record includes immigration sweeps that target anyone “guilty of looking Latino,” entering private homes without warrants, taking mothers from their children during traffic stops, and parading shackled detainees in front of the news media.

Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” but not only are his practices of racial profiling discriminatory, they are downright ineffective. As a result of his obsessive focus on the Latino population, his county has more than 40,000 outstanding felony warrants, and 911 response times have worsened, making his county a less safe place for all people.

Think abuses in Maricopa County are only a local concern? Think again. Sheriff Arpaio illustrates the dangerous consequences of our broken national immigration system. Since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot effectively enforce our current laws, it gives authority—and your federal taxpayer dollars—to local officials. Some local agencies use this power responsibly; others, like Sheriff Arpaio, do not.

Sheriff Arpaio once said, “Do you think I’m going to report to the federal government? I don’t report to them. If they don’t like the contract, they can close it up.” Couldn’t agree with his suggestion more, but ending his contract is not enough: a deeper investigation is in order.

Join prominent members of Congress and the Mayor of Phoenix in requesting a Justice Department investigation into “discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches, and arrests” of Latinos by Sheriff Arpaio. [Sojourners]

"They're probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of."

So what's America's greatest threat? The weakest economy in 80 years? Widespread layoffs, bank collapses, meltdown in the auto industry and a housing crisis?

Not according to Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars. In a recent interview obtained by HRC, he says America's greatest threat is the LGBT community. He goes on to call lesbian and gay relationships "abominations" and claims LGBT people lack morals. Watch now >>

In the interview, Sen. Buttars calls LGBT people "the meanest buggers I've ever seen" – this kind of rhetoric creates an atmosphere of hatred that incites violence against LGBT Americans.

Here are a few more lowlights from Buttars' rant:

  • LGBT people "are destroying the Constitution."
  • Their "number one goal is to proselytize to youth" and use schools as "a recruiting station."
  • Thanks to them we are, "moving toward a society that has no morals."
  • They will "destroy the foundation of American society... In my mind, it is the beginning of the end."

What's more, Sen. Buttars also takes clear pride in saying he's "killed" every piece of pro-equality legislation in Utah for eight years.

Call on Utah's Senate President to publicly condemn Sen. Buttars' remarks immediately. [HRC]


Now, let's talk poverty:

Want to find out how people have voted in your state or district? Go to this interactive map at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s Poverty Scorecard to find out how your representatives voted. Bet you can guess, but in case your imagination is lacking here's TN's to the right. How anyone with any speck of decency could vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, I'll never understand.

Of course in each of these instances they're all Republicans. All this party knows is how to alienate, discriminate, and harm what they consider as "the other." Whether it's immigrants or gays or the poor, time and time again the leadership on all levels, state, local, and federal we continue to see this kind of bigotry and xenophobia, fearmongering and divisive speech serving as fodder for the least of our nature going so far as to result in physical and psychological violence, systemic injustice and widespread rights violations against those on the outside of power.

For Jesus and the prophets before, true righteousness consisted of deeds of love, mercy and justice, especially to the most vulnerable. This had slipped from the center of tradition in Jesus’s day and the focus from the Pharisees was on ritual purity of which Jesus had very little interest. Jesus said our righteousness must go beyond theirs and made a huge emphasis on expanding our circle of love to include strangers and even enemies. This was the true standard of holiness: to practice communal hospitality, so that the burden is shared within the body of Christ rather than being carried by one individual, to help our brothers and sisters in need, not to divide one as “stranger” or “other", to love God, our neighbor as ourselves, Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God. The Republican party, the party of the 'older brother' from the Prodigal story knows nothing of these things. And the cooption of religion in this country under their moniker is perhaps one of the greatest scams ever committed. To use Sen. Buttars's own language:

"They're probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of."

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." [Matthew 25:31-46]

P.S. for my Libertarian friends:

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Monday, February 16, 2009

"We all hate the same things"

Maddow interviewing Alexandra Pelosi (Nancy's daughter) filmmaker of "Right America Feeling Wronged" & "Journey's With George" (about a minute or two in)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

The only performance worth watching last night....or this year.

Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog

Parting thoughts: Another Grammys, another year without any surprises. When it comes to album of the year, always pick old over innovative. With "Raising Sand," Robert Plant and Alison Krauss crafted an engrossing and timeless country-influenced album, one that certainly deserved to be rewarded for best contemporary folk album.

But album of the year? Not against Radiohead's "In Rainbows," an album that took more chances, pairing Radiohead's electronic and studio experimentations with some of the group's warmest songs to date.

A year after awarding Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters" album of the year over Kanye West's "Graduation," the Grammys had the opportunity to show a little more relevancy. But they missed it. Instead of awarding record of the year to M.I.A.'s arresting "Paper Planes," the trophy again went to Plant & Krauss for "Please Read the Letter." But give them a point for giving best new artist to Adele over the Jonas Brothers.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

They Need a Hero...(to save them from themselves)

Who will the Republicans turn to in their search for a qualified leader to guide them with fresh vision and ideas? Who possesses the sober-mindedness and wisdom that will help the country wade through the complex financial milieu most Americans currently face? Who will have the experience, insight and courage to take their tattered party forward? What representative tour de force will display that they understand the gravity of the situation while also offering helpful hints on how to stop the toilet from running or how to increase the water pressure through your shower head all the while being unlicensed and unqualified for any of the above?

Why JOE THE PLUMBER of course. For Christ's sake.

Joe the Plumber is the savior who will lead the Republicans beyond the wreckage of lost elections and into a new era. "Jiggle it."

Playing With Fire

Published: February 6, 2009

Neither the job losses nor the president’s prodding was enough to prompt much of a response from the Republicans. But by Friday evening, it appeared that a small number of G.O.P. senators, enough to assure Senate passage of a revised (and watered-down) stimulus package by a very slim margin, had come aboard.

But only a small number. Even as the report of an agreement was being circulated, Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, was bad-mouthing the package on CNN. “This bill is a disaster,” he said.

It’s been clear for years that the G.O.P. is a party without a heart. But its pointless obstructionism, its overall lack of any serious response to what is a clear national economic emergency, seems to indicate it’s also a party without a brain. [full article]

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Party of No Ideas' Big Idea is to Just Say No, Regardless.

Usually I post quotes from articles, snip-its, etc., but this one is too priceless, so I give it to you in all its snarky glory [of course, via]

GOP Against Stimulus Part of Stimulus Bill
- Ken Layne

So the Republicans are all for a good Economic Stimulus bill, meaning one that would stop taxing the rich and stop any corporate taxes and also, somehow, further ruin the environment and whatever. As a result of this clear “small government” philosophy the big-spending corporate-welfare closeted homosexuals adopted last week, GOP congressional leaders have found the parts they just can’t tolerate in the Economic Stimulus legislation: the parts that would create jobs and build American infrastructure. Yes we can’t!

Look, whatever anybody’s uninformed opinions about this Rescue the Economy package, you should at least be able to reconcile “support for economic stimulus legislation” with “support for legislation that will throw a bunch of money at the economy, in the form of money paid for goods and services, manufacturing and labor, and other traditional uncontroversial gears of Capitalism.”

So, here are some specific things the GOP will not condone, in this bill they’re not going to vote for, anyway:

  • A billion dollars extra for the 2010 U.S. Census, which is going to pay good money to many jobless people in every American town — and shore up Lockheed-Martin, which is getting $500 million to build the data systems and run the machinery.
  • $75 million for FBI employee salaries, because why would you want to pay America’s top cops to do law enforcement and investigations, in America?
  • $500 million for Mississippi River flood control projects, which would employ thousands of laborers and keep dozens of construction companies in business, because nothing makes Republicans happier than seeing a Katrina repeat on the teevee every other hurricane season.
  • $200 million for green vehicles on U.S. military bases and $600 million to replace the federal fleet of cars with hybrids, because only a gay communist could see the economic benefits of $800 bmillion in sales for U.S. auto manufacturers while simultaneously cutting the government’s gasoline bill by billions per year.
  • $1.4 billion for rural garbage-disposal and recycling programs, because who but an Islamo-Fascist would want to provide much-needed jobs for the Red State countryside while keeping toxic garbage out of those people’s drinking water?
  • $125 million to rebuild the broken, rotten, third-world sewer system of our Nation’s Capital. You give the blacks this, and who knows what they’ll want next! And by “give,” we mean “pay a decent wage to laborers in D.C., to rebuild their sewers.”
  • $6 billion to pay dozens of big regional contractors, hundreds of local businesses and tens of thousands of American workers to retrofit federal buildings so that they’ll be energy efficient.
  • $200 million for computer centers at community colleges, because if poor unskilled workers want to “learn the computer,” they should just go to Stanford instead of complaining.

"...nine days after being inaugurated, Obama still hadn't erased decades' worth of partisan squabbling. That's a reasonable standard, right? If Republicans simply do not want to cooperate in any meaningful way with Democrats, is there anything Obama can do to change that? No, not really. But according to the press, Obama -- and Obama alone -- is supposed to change that mindset." - Eric Boehlert ['Obama, the press, and the "bipartisan" trap']

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